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Hundreds evacuated, up to 30 homes destroyed in South Island blaze

October 4, 2020 10:52 am

As many as 30 houses have been destroyed and hundreds of residents evacuated in a massive blaze that has torn through one of New Zealand’s most idyllic spots.

Dozens of homes at Lake Ohau in the Mackenzie Country are believed to have been destroyed in the major forest fire that is understood to have been sparked by an electrical arc from power lines

And the fire was continuing to spread early on Sunday afternoon, fanned by strong westerly winds.

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Fire and Emergency says the 200-hectare fire is burning through pine forest and grass in the Mackenzie Basin. It has 16 crews fighting it with five helicopters in the air and one more to join shortly.

David Stone told RNZ the small village has about 50 houses, many of which he believes have been burnt down, including his own.

“We’ve been told it’s gone. I’ve got near me a couple that’s lived there for 27 years. Their place, two along for us, is probably gone, well I think it has gone.

“Sort of looking over the smoke that’s coming down towards Twizel, it’s very prominent to my left, it’s been moving around – it’s peculiar.

“There’s a number of lifestyle blocks between the village and where the fire is currently. And probably they’ve suffered, as well.”

Stone said cars had also been burnt out and the area resembles a war zone.

Another Lake Ohau resident has described the horror of being separated from his father in the dark while driving through the “terrifying” forest fire early this morning.

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